SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 42
May 10, 2002

PENTAGON WITHDRAWS PROPOSED RESEARCH CONTROLS

The Defense Department has decided to withdraw its draft directive that would have imposed new controls on defense research "in response to bitter opposition from universities that do basic science for the Pentagon," the Boston Globe reported on May 9.

The Pentagon would not immediately confirm the report.

See "Pentagon Drops Attempt to Keep Research Quiet," by Mary Leonard, which may be found in the Boston Globe online archive here:

The draft directive that is reportedly being withdrawn is posted here:

There is some possibility that concerns over the draft have been overstated.

One close reader of the 110 page directive told Secrecy News that "there is language in the draft directive that in most cases probably serves to exempt at least unclassified fundamental research from control: (C1.6.2): 'No information that is within the public domain, as defined by the ITAR, shall be marked as [Critical Research Technology] or [Critical Program Information].' In most fields of science, the ITAR public domain definition would cover any openly published research, meaning that none of that stuff would require review. (For things like satellite-based research that are included on the US Munitions List, of course, things are more complicated.)" Uh huh.

On the other hand, the tremendous obscurity of the directive's contents and the impenetrability of its prose would inevitably have a chilling effect on scrupulous researchers who wish to comply with government regulations.


NEW RELEASES FROM MI5

The Public Records Office of the United Kingdom announced the largest release of British Security Service (MI5) records to date on May 9.

Among the declassified files is a set of documents concerning Sidney Reilly (1874-1925), better known as "Reilly, Ace of Spies," and hardly known at all as the former Sigmund Rosenblum. Oh well.

The contents of the new release are described at length, but with only a few links to actual documents, here:


EPA CLASSIFICATION AUTHORITY REVISITED

Secrecy News was too quick to report yesterday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had never had "original classification authority" until it was granted this week by President Bush. That was incorrect.

It turns out that EPA did have original classification authority (OCA) for a period of time in the 1980s.

But that classification authority "was used so infrequently that the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) recommended its exclusion, and, with no real fight from EPA at the time, it was removed from the list" of authorized classifiers, according to Steven Garfinkel, former ISOO Director.

One official observer viewed the new grant of classification authority to EPA skeptically.

"As soon as Health and Human Services summarily received such authority [last December]," that observer said, "the door was opened for all the other domestic, non-national security agencies to seek entrance. Now it's like an unnecessary security clearance -- it gives you status."

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Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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